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Rescue Operations Continue in Philippines Where Landslide Wiped Out Village 


Rescue operations continue on Leyte island in the Philippines, a day after a landslide buried a village under a sea of mud. Authorities say only several dozen survivors have been accounted for in a village of 1,800 people. Other villages in the area have been evacuated as a precaution.

Fresh rescue and assessment teams were flown to the region Saturday, including search dogs and miners. Philippine disaster officials say medicine, body bags, tents, food and generators were also dispatched.

The village of Guinsaugon was buried in a sea of mud Friday morning, when the side of a nearby mountain collapsed. Rescue workers are treading carefully in knee-deep mud, fearing that the soft, unstable soil could shift again.

In another development, officials say 11 more villages in the area have been evacuated because of concerns over more landslides. The residents are being moved to evacuation centers.

In Manila, President Gloria Arroyo presided over a meeting of national disaster officials, and called on the country to show courage in the face of tragedy.

"This a time of trial for our souls. The country should be united, should be together, should embrace and help all of those who lost their loved ones," she said.

The U.S. Navy is also pitching in. Two American warships are heading to the stricken region, and a U.S. Embassy official says they will be able to launch 17 helicopters and 1,000 Marines by daybreak Sunday.

The vessels, which were already in the Philippines for military exercises, also carry equipment to purify water, generators and other supplies. Philippine naval vessels have been ordered to the region, as well, to be used as floating hospitals and command centers.

Leyte has been the scene of tragedy before. In 1991, more than 5,000 people died in floods caused by a typhoon.

Heavy rains have lashed the region for days, which may have contributed to the landslide.